Don’t Fear the Reaper

Fox can­celed it. NBC saved it. The Nine-nine is back, baby! But was it ever re­ally gone?

Newsweek International - - CULTURE - ANNA MENTA @an­nalikest­weets

Last May, Fox can­celed

Brook­lyn Nine-nine af­ter five sea­sons, two Golden Globes, three Emmy nom­i­na­tions and too many Tum­blr GIFS to count. The cast of the feel-good sit­com—star­ring SNL alum Andy Sam­berg as an im­ma­ture but gifted New York Po­lice De­part­ment de­tec­tive named Jake—fig­ured that was it. “I may or may not have been a crazy, cry­ing, scream­ing lady walk­ing through JFK the day of can­cel­la­tion,” says Melissa Fumero, who plays Amy, Jake’s com­pet­i­tive, rule-abid­ing foil and even­tual wife.

But within a few hours, Twit­ter lit up with sup­port for the show; #Re­newb99 be­gan trend­ing world­wide, with ev­ery­one from Hamil­ton’s Lin-manuel Mi­randa to Star Wars’

Mark Hamill lament­ing Fox’s de­ci­sion. “We were all tex­ting each other that day,” says Sam­berg. “Like: ‘Are you guys see­ing this? We got can­celed, but we re­ally touched peo­ple.’ We were all pre­pared for that to be the end of the story.”

In fact, no: About 24 hours later, NBC an­nounced it was pick­ing up

Nine-nine for Sea­son 6. Fans re­joiced; much like Time­less—can­celed by NBC, then swiftly re­newed fol­low­ing a Twit­ter out­cry—the show was saved with the power of the in­ter­net!

Well…not ex­actly. Un­be­knownst to the ac­tors and show’s devo­tees, the re­ports of its death were, if not ex­ag­ger­ated, then pre­ma­ture. Showrun­ner Dan Goor—co-cre­ator of

Nine-nine with Michael Schur—had an inkling of what was to come just be­fore the an­nual “up­fronts,” when net­work ex­ec­u­tives present their fall lineup to ad­ver­tis­ers. “It had gone from, ‘We’re def­i­nitely get­ting picked up,’ to ‘We might get picked up,’ to ‘We’re hear­ing ru­mors that Fox isn’t pick­ing up any sin­gle-cam­era shows,’” says Goor. But even then, his “sor­row was tem­pered by a glim­mer of hope.”

Nb­cu­ni­ver­sal pro­duces the show, and though the stu­dio had sold it to Fox—the net­work that made the best of­fer—the for­mer chair­man of NBC En­ter­tain­ment, Robert Green­blatt, had al­ways re­gret­ted “let­ting it get away.” Tracey Pakosta, the co­pres­i­dent of NBC scripted pro­gram­ming, had been work­ing at Uni­ver­sal Tele­vi­sion at the time the show was cre­ated. “It has been very close to my heart,” says Pakosta. “When we got word that the show was pos­si­bly be­ing can­celed, ev­ery­one mo­bi­lized.”

No one’s will­ing to dis their old stomp­ing grounds; let’s just say Fox never foot the bill for a two-minute Die Hard par­ody.

Did the on­line fan re­sponse in­flu­ence things at all? Kinda, says Pakosta. “In our minds, we were part of that cheer­ing squad,” she says. “Hear­ing the en­thu­si­as­tic voices—par­tic­u­larly from in­ter­nal tal­ent like Seth Mey­ers [host of NBC’S Late Night With Seth

Mey­ers] al­ways helps. But ev­ery­one was quick to jump on the op­por­tu­nity to get Nine-nine on NBC.”

On Jan­uary 10, the show slips into a Thurs­day slot be­tween Schur’s The

Good Place and Will & Grace, for an 18-episode sea­son. The big­gest change from switch­ing net­works, ev­ery­one agrees, is the en­thu­si­asm. “The at­ten­tion and push NBC is giv­ing us—we feel re­ally sup­ported,” says Fumero. “Even though we’ve been on for five years, we feel like a brand­new show in Sea­son 1.”

“The pro­mos and ad­ver­tis­ing have re­ally blown us away,” says Goor. No one’s will­ing to dis their old stomp­ing grounds, but let’s just say that Fox never foot the bill for a twominute Die Hard par­ody, com­plete with he­li­copters and ex­plo­sions, just to an­nounce a new sea­son. “When I saw that trailer, I was jaw-dropped,” ad­mits Goor. “They get the show’s hu­mor and point of view.”

“Also, when we went to up­fronts for NBC,” says Sam­berg, “I knew all the se­cu­rity guards from SNL. Not gonna lie, it felt real good.”

Be­hind the cam­era, al­most noth­ing has changed. “Our im­me­di­ate over­lords [Uni­ver­sal Tele­vi­sion] re­main the same,” says Goor. “It’s the same stu­dio lot, sound­stage, writ­ers and crew.” (Well, al­most the same; ac­cord­ing to Sam­berg, “There were a few heads of de­part­ments that got new jobs within 24 hours of our can­cel­la­tion, which is pretty hi­lar­i­ous.”)

For Goor, the tricky part was the sea­son pre­miere, which “had to ac­com­plish a lot of things: the first episode on NBC, the first episode of the sea­son and the 113th episode of the se­ries.” A meta-episode ref­er­enc­ing the can­cel­la­tion—or even just a few wink-wink-nudge-nudge lines about the net­work switch—was se­ri­ously con­sid­ered. “We de­cided against that for two rea­sons,” says Goor. “One, meta stuff is cutesy, and it takes you out of the show. Two, we did a very sim­i­lar story in Sea­son 4 [Episode 15, “The Last Ride”], where of­fice man­ager Gina (Chelsea Peretti) ral­lied the troops on the in­ter­net and cre­ated an up­roar to save the precinct. Iron­i­cally, art pre­saged life.”

In­stead, it’s more or less busi­ness as usual. The Sea­son 5 cliffhanger—the stoic Cap­tain Ray Holt (played by Emmy-nom­i­nated An­dre Braugher) was just about to tell the squad whether or not he made NYPD com­mis­sioner—is re­solved swiftly in typ­i­cally quippy Nine-nine fash­ion. New­ly­weds Jake and Amy, mean­while, are off to Mex­ico for their hon­ey­moon—which, nat­u­rally, is not the ro­man­tic es­cape they’d en­vi­sioned.

The rest of the sea­son in­cludes a jour­ney to the ’80s with a young Hitch­cock and Scully, a con­fronta­tion be­tween Jake and Amy’s re­served Cuban-amer­i­can fam­ily, and a good­bye for the sar­cas­tic and self­ab­sorbed Gina (Peretti an­nounced in Oc­to­ber that she was leav­ing the se­ries with the pos­si­bil­ity of fu­ture guest ap­pear­ances).

“Gina’s two-episode good­bye is un­like any­thing we’ve done be­fore,” says Goor. “We have four sep­a­rate sto­ries, with Gina the lead of each. We’re tak­ing ad­van­tage of hav­ing fewer episodes this sea­son by do­ing more for­mat-break­ing episodes— like one where Jake and Rosa (Stephanie Beat­riz) spend an en­tire episode at a crime scene.”

Sea­son 6 also con­tin­ues Ni­ne­nine’s tra­di­tion of “is­sues” episodes. Sea­son 4 took on racial pro­fil­ing with Terry Crews’s Sergeant Terry Jef­fords; 5 tack­led iden­tity is­sues when Rosa came out as bi­sex­ual; and this sea­son the show takes on #Metoo. “Jake and Amy are deal­ing with a ‘he said, she said’ case, and it brings up stuff for her,” says Fumero. “Dif­fer­ent ver­sions of the male point of view are used: The man that’s try­ing to be an ally, and the man that’s stuck in old ways. It was lovely,” she adds, “to see a vul­ner­a­ble side of Amy.”

NBC has com­mit­ted to one sea­son for sure. “We’re in it for the du­ra­tion,” says Sam­berg. “How­ever long peo­ple want to see the show.”

“Same,” adds Fumero. “I still en­joy spend­ing 12 hours a day with these peo­ple. As long as NBC will have us, we will hap­pily show up.”

Peretti is leav­ing the show this sea­son. “Gina’s two-episode good­bye is un­like any­thing we’ve done be­fore.”

CHEESE IT, THE COPS The Nine-nine cast, from left: Fumero, Dirk Blocker (Hitch­cock), Joel Mckin­non Miller (Scully), Crews, Sam­berg, Braugher, Peretti, Joe Lo Trugilo (Boyle) and Beat­riz.

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